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RealTime Economic Issues Watch

In RealTime posts, PIIE senior staff and colleagues discuss the fast-moving economic news, financial developments, and public policy choices confronting the United States and the world.

Recent Posts

The Sony Hack Part 2: Public and Private Responses

by and Stephan Haggard and Stephan Haggard | December 22nd, 2014 | 10:03 am

In a previous post, we outlined what we think we know about the private sector side of the North Korean cyberattack. In this post we take up the question of what should be done by Sony and the government going forward. First, it is worth noting that while many have criticized Sony and the industry […]

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The Sony Hack Part 1: The Hollywood Dimension

by and Stephan Haggard | December 22nd, 2014 | 09:58 am

Update (1 PM December 21 by Stephan Haggard): Due to its highly fluid nature, we have periodically updated this story with additional developments and details. Besieged by disclosures of–and from–a sustained cyber-attack now attributed by the FBI to North Korea, Sony Pictures decided on December 17 to pull the release of The Interview. The cancellation currently […]

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President Putin Fails to Address Economic Policy

by | December 18th, 2014 | 04:24 pm

A financial meltdown has ravaged Russia in the last two weeks in a fashion reminiscent of 2008 and 1998. The value of the ruble has fallen by more than half since June and import prices are set to double, setting the stage for President Vladimir Putin to address the crisis at his annual big press […]

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Speeding the Winds of Change in Cuba-US Economic Relations

by and Gary Clyde Hufbauer | December 18th, 2014 | 11:49 am

President Obama yesterday ended an embargo policy that had neither dislodged the Castro regime nor brought democracy to Cuba. Instead, over five decades, the US policy of isolating Cuba economically entrenched Cuban determination to continue its hostile relationship with Washington. There is no guarantee that President Obama’s historic initiative will foster prosperity, human rights, and […]

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Beyond Government Debt-to-GDP Ratios

by and Benedict Clements | December 18th, 2014 | 09:44 am

Public discourse on the state of public finances across the world focuses on government debt-to-GDP ratios. However, projected increases in age-related spending (health care and pensions) can fundamentally alter our views on which countries will need to undertake the most fiscal adjustment during the next 10 or 20 years. This blog post draws attention to […]

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Don’t Repeal Swaps Push-Out Requirements (Section 716 of Dodd-Frank)

by | December 12th, 2014 | 10:34 am

Section 716 of the Dodd-Frank financial reform act requires that some derivative transactions be “pushed out” from those parts of banks that have deposit insurance (run by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation [FDIC]) and other forms of backstop (provided by the Federal Reserve). This is a sensible provision that, if properly implemented, would help keep […]

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A New Reformist Offensive in Ukraine

by | December 10th, 2014 | 04:17 pm

Ukraine is on the brink of a financial meltdown, but its newly formed government appears to be prepared to do what it takes to turn the situation around. Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s speech to parliament on December 9 laid out one the boldest and most impressive reform agendas that Ukraine has seen in its recent […]

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PIIE Chart: Political Timetables for US Free Trade Agreements

by | December 10th, 2014 | 12:50 pm

The United States is negotiating two major free trade agreements (FTAs): the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which involves 10 other countries, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the United States and the European Union. Both negotiations have been held up by stumbling blocks, but there is cautious but growing optimism about the prospects […]

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The European Union Lags on Basel III Banking Reforms

by | December 10th, 2014 | 12:10 pm

The European Union, which often claims leadership on championing global financial standards, has been found to be the global laggard on a key aspect of banking regulation, as documented by the latest report (December 5) of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. As was to be expected, the Basel Committee—in examining adherence to its international […]

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The Russian Economy Is Heading toward Disaster

by | December 8th, 2014 | 01:52 pm

President Vladimir Putin’s annual address to the Russian Federal Assembly in the Kremlin on December 4 occurred in the midst of a perfect financial storm, which he largely ignored. His unspoken main message was that no economic reforms would take place. But the speech might have been his last opportunity to use reforms to save […]

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